Theyâ€™re down, but far from out.
With just four games remaining in the 2010 regular season, the CSU softball team (27-18, 5-6 MWC) sits in fourth place in the Mountain West Conference, but within striking distance of third place UNLV.
The Rams, who have played a whopping 35 of 45 games this season away from the friendly confines of Ram Field, will return home for the final two weeks of the season.
â€œBeing at your home field just brings a different energy, just makes you more relaxed,â€ said senior catcher Ashley Munoz, whose five home runs tie her for second on the team. â€œYou have your friends in the crowd, you just want to show everyone what we can do.â€
The Rams have only one game this weekend, an afternoon affair with the reeling New Mexico Lobos (11-33, 1-10 MWC). Head coach Mary Yori said the solitary game will give the Rams ample time to establish a game plan for the Lobos.
â€œItâ€™s kind of nice to have just one game, we will put our best effort forward,â€ Yori said. â€œNew Mexico is just scrappy, they run the bases, they put pressure on the defense. Weâ€™ve got to handle it.â€
The Rams will need to take care of the last-place Lobos, whom theyâ€™ve beat twice already this season, to have any chance at overtaking 3rd place UNLV next weekend.
â€œWe canâ€™t overlook New Mexico. We have to have a victory, or weâ€™ve just shot ourselves in the foot,â€ Yori said. â€œItâ€™s going to come down to a showdown with UNLV next weekend we hope.â€
Last weekend was a difficult one for the Rams, who struggled early with losses to both BYU and Utah, before winning in record-tying fashion during Saturdayâ€™s finale against the Cougars.
The Rams powered five home runs and plated eight runs total in the first inning of a 16-2 win over the Utah Utes. Caitlan Stem, a junior infielder for the Rams, belted two home runs in the inning, while Allison Majam, Robyn Mask and Christine Thomsen all went yard as well.
The five home runs tied an NCAA record for most in a single inning, a mark previously set by Creighton.
â€œWe knew we were in a make-or-break situation (against BYU), everyone did a great job of attacking at the plate,â€ Munoz said. â€œIt was nice not having to really worry about them coming back.â€
First pitch against New Mexico is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Ram Field.
Softball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.